|Saturday’s Red Sox-Rays matchups: Jon Lester vs. Jeff Niemann||09.17.11 at 3:53 am ET|
In the third game of a pivotal four-game series against the Rays, the Red Sox will send Jon Lester to the mound on Saturday at Fenway Park. Lester will try to make up for a poor start against the Rays in his last outing, while Tampa Bay’s Jeff Niemann will look to replicate the success he had against the Sox on Aug. 16, when he threw a complete game.
Lester (15-7, 3.07 ERA) lasted just four innings last Sunday against the Rays, allowing four runs in a loss. It was tied for his shortest outing of the season and gave the Rays the series sweep.
Besides that start, however, Lester has been excellent lately, recording a 2.63 ERA over his last 10 outings. The left-hander has been fanning batters at a good clip as well, striking out 59 in those games.
Lester has a 4.00 ERA in three starts against Tampa Bay this season, going 1-2 in those games. Johnny Damon is hitting .300 with two home runs and seven RBIs against Lester. The Rays lineup as a unit has .245 average against the Boston starter.
Niemann (10-7, 3.97 ERA) has had a solid year for Tampa Bay in the middle of the rotation. After struggling against Texas on Sept. 6, when he gave up seven runs in 4 2/3 innings, Niemann rebounded to pitch 7 2/3 innings while giving up only two runs against the Orioles in a win on Monday.
Niemann has been especially good against the Red Sox this season, allowing two runs in two starts (17 innings). That includes that complete game on Aug. 16, when Niemann allowed two runs and struck out 10 in the win over Boston. The current Red Sox lineup has been dismal against Niemann, hitting .130 off the Rays starter collectively. Conor Jackson is the only Boston player hitting above .200 off of Niemann.
Rays vs. Jon Lester
B.J. Upton (57 plate appearances): .208 BA/.263 OBP/.396 SLG, 1 double, 3 HRs, 7 RBIs, 4 walks, 12 strikeouts
Evan Longoria (45): .250 BA/.333 OBP/.500 SLG, 4 doubles, 2 HRs, 7 RBIs, 5 walks, 13 strikeouts
Ben Zobrist (33): .214 BA/.333 OBP/.250 SLG, 1 double, 4 RBIs, 5 walks, 13 strikeouts
Johnny Damon (32): .300 BA/.344 OBP/.567 SLG, 1 triple, 2 HRs, 7 RBIs, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts
Kelly Schoppach (23): .250 BA/.348 OBP/.450 SLG, 1 double, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
Sean Rodriguez (15): .167 BA/.267 OBP/.250 SLG, 1 double, 3 RBIs, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts
Casey Kotchman (10): .222 BA/.300 OBP/.200 SLG, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Sam Fuld (6): 1-for-6, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout
Desmond Jennings (6): 2-for-6, 1 double, 2 strikeouts
Elliot Johnson (5): 1-for-5, 1 strikeout
Dan Johnson (3): 2-for-3
Justin Ruggiano (3): 2-for-3
Brandon Guyer (2): 1-for-2
Matthew Joyce (2): 0-for-1, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Jose Lobaton (2): 0-for-2
Reid Brignac and John Jaso have not faced Lester.
Red Sox vs. Niemann
Marco Scutaro (21 plate appearances): .167 BA/.286 OBP/.167 SLG, 2 RBIs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts
David Ortiz (12): .222 BA/.417 OBP/.667 SLG, 1 double, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, 3 walks, 1 strikeout
Dustin Pedroia (12): .200 BA/.273 OBP/.200 SLG, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Jacoby Ellsbury (11): .o91 BA/.o91 OBP/.364 SLG, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 5 strikeouts
Kevin Youkilis (9): 0-for-8, 3 strikeouts
Adrian Gonzalez (7): 1-for-6, 1 walk
Josh Reddick (6): 0-for-5, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Jason Varitek (6): 1-for-6, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 strikeouts
Jed Lowrie (5): 1-for-5, 1 strikeout
Conor Jackson (4): 1-for-4, 1 strikeout
Mike Aviles (3): 0-for-3, 1 strikeout
Carl Crawford (3): 0-for-3, 3 strikeouts
Darnell McDonald (3): 0-for-3, 2 strikeouts
Lars Anderson (1): 0-for-1, 1 strikeout
Joey Gathright, Jose Iglesias, Ryan Lavarnway and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have not faced Niemann.
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